Bombers eye 7th victory, solo lead versus LionsBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
JOSE Rizal U and San Beda put their winning streaks on the line when they tangle today in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Bombers can gain the solo lead with a victory over the Red Lions in their 6 p.m. duel serving as a rematch of their Final Four duel last season won by San Beda.
But with the Bombers in solid form, the challenge of repeating last season’s success will be tougher for the Lions, who have shown just a sprinkling of their fearsome display from the past few seasons.
JRU is riding high on a three-game winning run that started after the Bombers lost to the San Sebastian Stags, with whom they share top spot at 6-1.
One of the players instrumental in the Bombers’ early season success has been Nate Matute, who has taken the leadership mantle for coach Vergel Meneses’ team.
Matute’s 21.6 points per game average is one of the best in the league, aside from shooting a remarkable 51 percent from the field.
The Lions have also won three straight, although they’ve found it hard to finish off opponents unlike in the past few years with teams becoming more competitive this season.
The Lions needed clutch baskets from Jake Pascual to hold off the Mapua Cardinals, 64-52, Thursday night.
While San Beda has established a dynasty of sorts in the league with five titles in the last six seasons, JRU has been deprived of success with a 30-year title drought.
St. Benilde hopes to end the first round on a winning note against skidding Emilio Aguinaldo College at 4 p.m.
Inconsistency on both ends of the floor has led to the Blazers’ 3-5 record despite a veteran-laden lineup spearheaded by former Rookie of the Year Carlo Lastimosa.
“I think we’re losing just because of the lack of effort,” said St. Benilde coach Richard del Rosario, whose squad dropped a 72-77 decision to JRU last Monday.
It’s been a case of too little too late for the Generals, who absorbed close losses in their last three games. In fact, the Generals have lost five games by four points or less this season.
After wasting a late 11-point lead in an 87-88 loss to Perpetual Help, the Generals mounted a late run that fell short against the Stags, 93-94.
The Blazers boast of a solid backcourt duo in Carlo Lastimosa and newcomer Joel Tolentino who average 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Generals will counter with Russel Yaya and Jan Jamon who posts 12.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per outing.